Haku – Na Mele a Ka Haku (EM, November 2015)

The other shock from the archive this month was this gorgeous electro-ritualistic music, a messianic synth affair repressed by the ever-enquiring Japanese label EM Records. Na Mele a Ka Haku (“Music of Haku”) is the majestic opus of Frank Tavares, an Hawaiian synth experimenter who single-handedly made this LP between Maui, Oahu and Honolulu in the first part of the 1970s. Tavares apparently occupied himself with music and theatrical performances (which he presumably scored) that foregrounded the cultural heritage of Hawaii and his people’s mournful loss of their land. But while he incorporated this tradition and folklore into his creative endeavours, he brought it to a whole new, futuristic level which is displayed on this reissue.

The record may well be bizarre and obscure, but above all makes for extraordinarily fascinating listening. It works entirely on the juxtaposition of synthesised sounds and the human voice, a male voice that is chant-like and austere and a female voice that moves between the vocoded but ethereal and a public announcement tone. All around these voices, layers of home-assembled synthesis offer all kinds of ingenious atmospheres. The result is a kind of science-fictional ambient, awash with swarming drones, cricket-like twinkles and mechanical rhythms perfectly poised somewhere between a less masculine Vangelis and a tropically delicate Kosmische. Fly with it once, concentrate, and it’s guaranteed to become a favourite. Complex and protean, the music of Haku is stunning.

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